How can remote monitoring minimise equipment downtime?
How can remote monitoring minimise equipment downtime?
Keeping a site’s power, heating and cooling facilities up and running is a vital part of any construction project. With more focus than ever on ensuring work is carried out as efficiently as possible and to tight deadlines, any unplanned downtime caused by equipment breakdown or performance issues could lead to logistical, operational and financial complications. Taking this into account, Ben Vincent, Construction Sector Team Leader at Aggreko UK, looks into remote monitoring technology, and how it can improve site efficiency while reducing potentially costly equipment downtime.
Knowledge is power. It is a common and sometimes overused saying, but when it comes to construction site equipment, it is most definitely the case. The majority of sites require power generators to keep operations running, alongside other important heating and cooling systems.
This equipment is the backbone of any construction project, and as such, ensuring it remains functional and working as efficiently as possible should be a key concern for contractors and project managers. With that in mind, they need to know exactly how this necessary equipment is performing at all times.
Before remote monitoring
Traditionally, equipment monitoring was done at the site itself as part of a maintenance and inspection schedule, or even on an ad-hoc basis. Though it’s possible to effectively monitor like this, it can be inefficient and reliant on the experience of the personnel carrying out the inspection, which can vary widely.
Furthermore, on sites with dozens of pieces of equipment in spread-out areas, maintaining a comprehensive maintenance strategy can be challenging. Site workers may be pulled away from other vital work to carry out inspections, which could lead to longer build times. Yet with deadlines becoming increasingly strict, and contractors at risk of financial penalties if they miss them, they may find themselves between a rock and a hard place, balancing efficient building processes and the need for ongoing maintenance, all while the clock ticks down.
A lack of readily available real-time performance data can also result in a more reactive approach to maintenance, fuel provision and equipment optimisation. This response-first approach can leave contractors and project managers only becoming aware of an issue after it happens. This, clearly, is not ideal.
So, what if the worst happens, and the generator breaks down? A lack of power could force workers to down tools, no heating in the middle of winter, no security lighting and no usable cabins. These unplanned consequences can be expensive, and put cost-conscious contractors back to square one.
We’re all aware of the tight timescales that can come part-and-parcel with complex projects, and the importance of power resilience. With this mind, it’s clear that contractors should be moving toward a data-driven approach with their equipment, to improve efficiency and minimise system breakdowns. Equipment diagnostics, and more specifically, remote monitoring technology, can make this happen.
A remote monitoring system helps operations teams by delivering essential information about vital site equipment. For construction site project managers, this means they can be kept aware of a whole host of generator performance metrics, in real time. This includes run status, load, fuel levels, run hours and other key performance indicators around equipment reliability.
Full visibility of performance conditions makes it possible to establish a more proactive maintenance and inspection strategy. This data, gleaned from remote monitoring technology, can be used to establish patterns and trends, allowing issues to be pinpointed quickly and before they can disrupt site operations.
Let’s use the example of a slight drop in an on-site generator’s battery voltage. Using remote monitoring, this issue can be identified early and smaller remedial work carried out – in this case, recharging the battery. Had this issue not been identified early, performance could have deteriorated further without the contractor’s knowledge to the extent where the generator could have fallen offline. As well as disrupting ongoing operations, this potential loss of power could be costly. Yet instead, the generator can remain operational while issues are resolved, avoiding all of this.
Rather than being bound by routine maintenance and performance optimisation checks as before, the technology allows project managers and contractors to opt for a more dynamic approach to keeping things running smoothly. As well as helping minimise risk and resolve issues before they occur, this proactive monitoring can maximise uptime, increase unit productivity and improve operational efficiency.
24/7 review and support
Aggreko’s own remote monitoring system, Aggreko Remote Monitoring (ARM), allows engineers to remotely identify potential issues before they become incidents. This is all done through the Remote Operations Centre, or ROC, in which a team of engineers and field-experienced technicians can review every performance aspect of 10,000 generators around the world, 24/7.
Using this information, the ROC team can pinpoint a problem, troubleshoot using computerised diagnostics, plan a solution, and then take action. For instance, when a solution’s ARM system locates an issue, the ROC team can then take a number of steps depending on the gravity of the situation.
So, if a generator is running low on fuel, a fuel delivery can be scheduled. If an issue has arisen which can be solved via a minor fix or adjustment, the team can provide instructions to the customer directly. In the case of emergencies, technicians and resources can be quickly deployed to solve the problem on-site.
ARM can also provide other advantages beyond service response and fault finding. Using statistical data, it can fine-tune equipment specifications using load profiling to ensure the best, optimum-sized equipment for the job. As a result, we can ensure that the right equipment is on site, resulting in best possible efficiency and value-for-money. In addition, those using ARM can request reports on their equipment’s run-time, performance and fuel usage from the ROC team, improving transparency of information and KPI reporting.